We all have our favourite runs, whether it’s the gradient, width, scenery or lack of crowds that’s got you hooked. With eight resorts connected by 600km of piste, France’s Three Valleys area has plenty of possibilities, especially for intermediates – but where to start?
Combe de la Saulire – Courchevel
Catch the first lifts up from Courchevel or Méribel-Mottaret to get the crisp corduroy of the Combe de la Saulire all to yourself. Tackle the steep start of this 3km run and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the famed couloirs – narrow gullies with an adrenaline-rushing near-vertical descent. Marked red thanks to its sharp drop-in, it soon opens out into a wide, cruisey blue. With the sun at your back, you can choose to bomb it down for a breathless finish, or wind your way slowly, watching the daredevils on the surrounding Sous Pylons, Emile Allais and Grand Couloir.
Jerusalem – St Martin de Belleville
Pause on the ridge between Méribel and St Martin de Belleville to take in 360 degrees of ‘pinch me’ views, then head off on this fun blue. Regraded from a red in Winter 16/17, it whirls its way down the St Martin side towards the town below. The rollers will have you grinning from ear to ear for the whole ride. Jump on the St Martin Express chairlift at the bottom, or take the blue Boilley slope down to finish in St Martin.
Combe du Vallon – Méribel
An overlooked yet challenging red, the Combe Du Vallon starts at the highest point in the Méribel Valley. Up at 2,952m, you’ll get views across the Parc National de la Vanoise and some of France, Italy and Switzerland’s surrounding peaks. You’ll drop over 1000 vertical metres from the summit, and feel that this 3km piste goes on forever as you swoosh down towards Méribel and Lake Tueda. With a consistent steepness and bumpy terrain, especially as the day goes on, it’s a pretty demanding slope – expect high speeds, quick acceleration and jelly legs at the finish line, and a feeling that it was totally worth it.
Best runs for beginners and experts
With so much terrain, the Three Valleys isn’t just a paradise for intermediates. There are plenty of cruisey, uncrowded blues for improving beginners – like the spectacularly sunny, wide and always well-groomed Creux in Courchevel. If you’re an advanced skier, make sure the Grand Couloir is on the list – the approach along the extremely narrow ridge will get your heart racing, before the thrillingly steep, ungroomed run down to join the Combe Couloir red.
All these must-do favourites can be accessed from anywhere in the Three Valleys, whether you’re staying in upmarket Courchevel, lively Val Thorens or family-friendly La Tania. And the best thing is that they’re all on one lift pass.